In My House

Mama, Let’s Look at the Tree Together

Lately in the evenings my two-year-old daughter has a request around bedtime: “Mama, let’s look at the Christmas tree together.” So almost every night we spend a few minutes, just the two of us, in a room lit by only sparkling white lights while we admire the variety of ornaments.

December 2019 (1)

She giggles as I throw out names and descriptions of the ornaments, asking her to locate them on the tree. “Where’s Buzz Lightyear?”

I point to a ceramic baby carriage with “2017” engraved on it and she knows it is hers from when she was “tiny.” (She still is tiny.)

I smile as she recognizes and kisses an ornament that features a photo of my beloved late grandfather who she never knew, but would absolutely have adored her.

It’s no secret that Christmas time has a tendency to exhaust me. I do not think I am alone in that. Although I love the meaning of Christmas, traditions old and new, and the time with loved ones, I also thrive on minimalism, organization, and routine, none of which the holiday season seems to feature in abundance. These simple moments like enjoying the beauty of the tree through the eyes of a young child, are the moments that matter most.

In My House

For the Mom Buying Her Own Stocking Stuffers

Like a lot of moms out there, I buy a few goodies to stuff my own stocking every Christmas. I don’t want my four-year-old asking why Santa filled everyone’s stocking but Mommy’s, and, quite frankly, I just really love stocking stuffers. They’re small, fun, and don’t require cleaning out an entire closet to find space to store them. So, pretty much, they’re the best kind of gift! Here are my favorites for my own stocking this year.


1. These enamel pins by Rifle Paper Co. are perfect for a stocking. I’m actually also giving them as gifts to my daughters’ preschool teachers this year. (Anthropologie) 2. This cute little box holds a small tube of my favorite moisturizer and a purse-size lip gloss. (Clinique) 3. This drinking glass features a schnauzer that looks so much like my own Norman. I would use this on my dresser as a jewelry catch-all. It comes in other dog breeds as well. (Anthropologie) 4. Wear Your Music offers jewelry made from guitar strings of all kinds of musicians ranging from James Taylor to Jason Mraz. I would of course choose a bracelet made from James Hetfield’s guitar strings. (Wear Your Music) 5. This is one of my favorite hand creams to get through the dry winter months. Vanilla marshmallow is one of the best fragrances. (The Body Shop) 6. I love the bow detail on these gloves and gray is always a favorite for me. They also come in black and pink. (Kate Spade)

In My House

Some Holiday Favorites

It is hard to believe that Christmas is only a little more than a week away. I have been enjoying the anticipation through the eyes of my two young daughters. I also shamelessly ordered all my own stocking stuffers from Sephora and Anthropologie. Are there any other moms out there who order their own stocking stuffers? I’ll post my favorites later, but for now here are a few other items I’m loving this Christmas season.


1. These animal ornaments are the cutest and would make great gifts for teachers and friends. Who doesn’t love a small smiling sloth? (Crate & Barrel) 2. I am thrilled at the abundance of non-candy advent calendars on the market. This Playmobil Santa’s Workshop has been a huge hit with my girls. (Target) 3. These metal monogram ornaments are gorgeous on the tree or tied on a gift in place of a bow. (Anthropologie.) 4. This table runner will be lovely to dress up with red and green décor, but also will work for everyday. (Target) 5. My friend and I visited Anthropologie on our recent trip to Salt Lake City and both fell in love with this skirt. It’s pricey and we had both just spend a lot of money on Metallica tickets so we passed this time, but I’ll be watching to see if it goes on sale! We were thrilled that the store is featuring the same fox image on their shopping bags this season so we still got to take this lovely design home, just not in skirt form. (Anthropologie) 6. A store in my small town carries homemade taper candles in a variety of gorgeous hues. I recently grabbed some dark forest green ones to pair with a black and white runner on my dining room table. These are similar and under $4 for a pair. (Target)

In My House

A Simple Holiday To Do List

December is officially here and with it the busy feeling that, if not kept in check, can bog us down and take the magic out of the holidays in a hurry. This year I am vowing to slow down, simplify, and enjoy every day of December. Here are 10 things on my to do list and all are about slowing down and enjoying this time of year.


Remember a neighbor.

Donate toys for children.

Get lost in the Nutcracker ballet.

Say no to something to fully enjoy something else.

Connect with new friends. Catch up with old friends.

Savor every Christmas card received.

Shop early, relax later.

Watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as many times as my three-year-old (ahem, and me) requests.

Hang out under the mistletoe when my husband is looking.

See the magic of Christmas through my children’s eyes.


In My House

Anthropologie: Stocking Stuffers for Girls of All Ages

Anthropologie has loads of adorable stocking stuffers and gifts for girls of all ages. Here are a few of my favorites for my seven-month-old, my three-year-old, and myself. I live tragically far from Anthropologie, but all of these items are available on their website, too.


Column 1 (Baby). A soft and artistic rattle and the most precious of cutlery. Column 2 (Toddler). Preschool reading with a feminist twist and fun hair clips. Column 3 (Mommy). A monogrammed keychain that won’t get lost in my huge bag and adorably packaged soap fragranced with fir, cypress, and lavender.


Christmas Spirit and A Delicious Chocolate Cake

Normally I am a proponent of holding off on decorating for Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but this past weekend I started looking at our busy schedule for the next few weeks. That led to hauling the decorations up from the basement, putting everything up, and baking this delicious cake featured in the gorgeous winter issue of Magnolia Journal. The girls even napped to Christmas music while I scurried about cleaning up glitter and cocoa powder.


Three years old might be the most magical age when it comes to enthusiasm for the holidays. I want to bottle every moment with my oldest daughter. OK, maybe not the occasional tantrum, but you get my drift.


We put the tree in the dining room this year, mainly because my youngest daughter just started crawling so finding a safe spot in the living room proved to be a challenge. However, I really like it in this spot. It is great to enjoy it during dinner, and it happens to be in front of a window that faces the street.


The magic of the holidays is in the air. The time between Halloween and New Year’s goes so quickly and seems to fly even faster now that I have two children of my own. I’m trying to focus on work-life balance as much as possible so I don’t miss the special times attending my daughter’s Thanksgiving lunch at preschool and helping with the church Christmas program.


The recipe for this delicious cake is below. It would make a great treat to share as a holiday gift or to serve at upcoming gatherings. Hint: It doesn’t hurt to pair it with a dry red wine.



  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3 eggs
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups water


  • Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Let the butter and eggs stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, generously grease a 10-inch Bundt pan. Add cocoa powder. Shake and tilt pan to generously coat the bottom, sides, and tube. Shake out any excess cocoa powder.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • In a small bowl, microwave unsweetened chocolate 1 to 2 minutes or until melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Cool slightly.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter on medium to high 30 seconds. Add both sugars. Beat until combined, scraping the bowl occasionally. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add melted chocolate and vanilla. Beat until combined.
  • Alternately add flour mixture and the water to the chocolate mixture. Beat on low after each addition until just combined. Pour into pan, spreading evenly.
  • Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Sift powdered sugar and unsweetened cocoa powder over the cake.
In My House

Dogs in Hats, Christmas Sweets, and Zero Restraint

And boom, just like that, I’m more than halfway done with this pregnancy. Things are going well, I’m feeling a bit better, and the abundance of holiday goodies at my office is not helping me rein in my insatiable sweet tooth.


Aside from photographing Norm in his handsome chef’s hat, the highlight of my holiday season has been experiencing Christmas through the eyes of my two-year-old.


Having kids around at Christmas enhances everything. Despite the aches and pains of pregnancy, this Christmas season has been the best of my life.


We are gearing up for one more weekend of holiday celebrations before getting back to reality with the beginning of the new year. I am kind of a weirdo in that I love taking down the tree and getting life back to normal after the excess of the holiday. I feel that way even more as 2017 approaches because I have so much to look forward to in the coming year, including (obviously) having this dear little baby and meeting up with my best pal for a Stevie Nicks concert.


I hope you have some exciting plans coming up in 2017, too. And now please comment with your favorite healthy snack ideas because I need to get serious about axing the junk and sweets. STAT.

In My House

Deck the Halls (With These Ornaments)

We are in the middle of a raging blizzard here in the Black Hills. While we hunker down by the tree and watch Christmas movies, here are six sweet ornaments I would love to have hanging on the branches. Stay warm out there, friends!


1. Ethereal etched trees adorn this beautiful piece. (Pier 1) 2. Woodsy ornaments are perfect in the Black Hills. (West Elm) 3. A rustic monogram. (Pottery Barn) 4. I am in love with this set of glass macaron ornaments. (Urban Outfitters) 5. These personalized ornaments come in a fun variety of fun patterns and feature the year. (Land of Nod) 6. This friendly looking deer makes me smile. (Anthropologie)

In My House

Grandma the Stunt Double and Other Christmas Cheer

See the person in this photo with Santa? It’s not my daughter. A couple of weeks ago my two-year-old was all geared up to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him that she is requesting Paw Patrol toys and Barbies.

Santa (spoiler alert) also happens to be a long-time neighbor of my parents so when the girl wouldn’t comply, he said “sit down here, Kathy, and we’ll get a photo.” My daughter had an epic freak-out at Santa, but I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to let her grandma step in as her Santa photo stunt double.


I have actually been stress-free this holiday season. Some of the pregnancy nausea is finally subsiding (it held on well into my 19th week) and I’m loving seeing my daughter’s reaction to everything Christmas related. I swear by getting at least half of my Christmas shopping done prior to Thanksgiving and that definitely alleviates a lot of stress. I love giving my friends and family Christmas gifts, but the shopping list can be a bit daunting.


The girl and I have been making festive treats and the whole fam (including Norman) has been enjoying the glow of the Christmas tree every evening at home.


There have been kisses under the mistletoe…


an adorable tree in the girls’ room…


and the sheer joy of watching a two-year-old take in all the fun of Christmas while I am simultaneously feeling her baby sis do somersaults in my tummy. Merry Christmas to all of you, dear readers!



In My House

The Extra Stocking

My husband and I received these beautiful monogrammed stockings for a wedding gift. When our daughter was born, I ordered a matching one with her initial from Bed Bath & Beyond.


When I opened the package, I found the company had shipped me two stockings monogrammed with the letter A. While ethically, I probably should have contacted Bed Bath & Beyond and arranged to return the stocking, I felt it was a sign. I believed this stocking was intended for someone I haven’t yet met.


Now, the two A stockings hang next to each other. One for our dear girl, and one for her baby sister.


They make me smile. Merry Christmas to all of you. Make time to enjoy the season.